The ‘Jerusalem’ Mezze
I was so inspired by reading this cookbook, I thought I’d create multiple recipes and create a mezze plater out of it. I’ve made pita, hummus and falafels before obviously through random sources in the internet. It wasn’t the same. Hummus here is simple yet flavourful and remember to always, ALWAYS pour in that cold water in the last step and mix it. The Falafels were so soft yet crunchy on the outside and I think I might have just found one of my favourite favourite things- the super quick overnight lemon pickle. I pairs so perfectly with the hummus and pita bread, I can’t even tell you!
Just a disclaimer: I didn’t have any coriander and parsley at home, our kitchen garden has officially ran out and I didn’t want to disturb the baby coriander sprouting. I also don’t follow recipes to the T, as much as I try to. I leave that only for when I’m baking (and yet I still manage to get things wrong more than half of the time).
1¼ cups / 250 g dried chickpeas 1 tsp baking soda 6½ cups / 1.5 liters water 1 cup plus 2 tbsp / 270 g light tahini paste 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 4 cloves garlic, crushed 6½ tbsp / 100 ml ice-cold water salt
Method: The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight. The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy. Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3⅔ cups / 600 g now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and 1½ teaspoons salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
1¼ cups / 250 g dried chickpeas ½ medium onion, finely chopped (½ cup / 80 g in total) 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro ¼ tsp cayenne pepper ½ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground coriander ¼ tsp ground cardamom ½ tsp baking powder 3 tbsp water 1½ tbsp all-purpose flour about 3 cups / 750 ml sunflower oil, for deep-frying ½ tsp sesame seeds, for coating salt
Method: Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Set aside to soak overnight. The next day, drain the chickpeas well and combine them with the onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. For the best results, use a meat grinder for the next part. Put the chickpea mixture once through the machine, set to its finest setting, then pass it through the machine for a second time. If you don’t have a meat grinder, use a food processor. Blitz the mix in batches, pulsing each for 30 to 40 seconds, until it is finely chopped, but not mushy or pasty, and holds itself together. Once processed, add the spices, baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt, flour, and water. Mix well by hand until smooth and uniform. Cover the mixture and leave it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until ready to use. Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with enough oil to come 2¾ inches / 7 cm up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to 350°F / 180°C. With wet hands, press 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand to form a patty or a ball the size of a small walnut, about a scant 1 oz / 25 g (you can also use a wet ice-cream scoop for this). Sprinkle the balls evenly with sesame seeds and deep-fry them in batches for 4 minutes, until well browned and cooked through. It is important they really dry out on the inside, so make sure they get enough time in the oil. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels and serve at once.
Quick Pickled Lemon:
½ red chile, chopped 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 3 small-medium unwaxed lemons, halved lengthwise and sliced widthwise as thinly as possible 3 tbsp / 35 g superfine sugar 1½ tsp coarse sea salt 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tsp sweet paprika ¼ tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground turmeric
Use a mortar and pestle to smash together the chile with 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice; you want to get a rough-looking paste. Transfer this to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients. Use your hands to mix everything together well so that all the flavors get massaged into the lemons. Leave in a covered bowl overnight, then transfer to a sterilized sealed jar the next day. The lemon will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
½ cup / 30 g fine bulgur wheat 2 large tomatoes, ripe but firm (10½ oz / 300 g in total) 1 shallot, finely chopped (3 tbsp / 30 g in total) 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus a little extra to finish 4 large bunches flat-leaf parsley (5½ oz / 160 g in total) 2 bunches mint (1 oz / 30 g in total) 2 tsp ground allspice 1 tsp baharat spice mix (store-bought or see recipe) ½ cup / 80 ml top-quality olive oil seeds of about ½ large pomegranate (½ cup / 70 g in total), optional salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method: Put the bulgur in a fine sieve and run under cold water until the water coming through looks clear and most of the starch has been removed. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Use a small serrated knife to cut the tomatoes into slices ¼ inch / 0.5 cm thick. Cut each slice into ¼-inch / 0.5cm strips and then into dice. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the bowl, along with the shallot and lemon juice and stir well. Take a few sprigs of parsley and pack them together tightly. Use a large, very sharp knife to trim off most of the stems and discard. Now use the knife to move up the stems and leaves, gradually “feeding” the knife in order to shred the parsley as finely as you can and trying to avoid cutting pieces wider than 1/16 inch / 1 mm. Add to the bowl. Pick the mint leaves off the stems, pack a few together tightly, and shred them finely as you did the parsley; don’t chop them up too much as they tend to discolor. Add to the bowl. Finally, add the allspice, baharat, olive oil, pomegranate, if using, and some salt and pepper. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if you like, possibly a little bit of lemon juice, and serve.
Baharat Spice Mix:
1 tsp black peppercorns 1 tsp coriander seeds 1 small cinnamon stick, coarsely chopped ½ tsp whole cloves ½ tsp ground allspice 2 tsp cumin seeds 1 tsp cardamom pods ½ whole nutmeg, grated Place all the spices in a spice grinder or mortar and grind until a fine powder is formed. Store in an airtight container, where it will keep for 8 weeks.
Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur and Yogurt:
2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp chile flakes 1 tsp sweet paprika 2 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon peel (store-bought or see recipe) ⅔ cup / 140 ml olive oil, plus extra to finish 2 medium eggplants 1 cup / 150 g fine bulgur ⅔ cup / 140 ml boiling water ⅓ cup / 50 g golden raisins 3½ tbsp / 50 ml warm water ⅓ oz / 10 g cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish ⅓ oz / 10 g mint, chopped ⅓ cup / 50 g pitted green olives, halved ⅓ cup / 30 g sliced almonds, toasted 3 green onions, chopped 1½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice ½ cup / 120 g Greek yogurt salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. To make the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chile, paprika, preserved lemon, two-thirds of the olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half with deep, diagonal crisscross scores, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place on a baking sheet cut side up. Put in the oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until the eggplants are completely soft. Meanwhile, place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Soak the raisins in the warm water. After 10 minutes, drain the raisins and add them to the bulgur, along with the remaining oil. Add the herbs, olives, almonds, green onions, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve the eggplants warm or at room temperature. Place ½ eggplant, cut side up, on each individual plate. Spoon the bulgur on top, allowing some to fall from both sides. Spoon over some yogurt, sprinkle with cilantro, and finish with a drizzle of oil.
scant 2 cups / 450 g goat’s milk yogurt scant 2 cups / 450 g cow’s milk yogurt ½ tsp coarse sea salt Line a deep bowl with cheesecloth. In a separate bowl, stir the yogurts together with the salt, then pour into the cloth. Bring the edges together, form a tight bundle, and tie firmly with a string. Hang the bundle over the bowl and place in the fridge. Leave the yogurt to drain for 24 to 36 hours, emptying the bowl once or twice if needed. After this time, much of the liquid will be gone and the yogurt will have turned thick and quite dry; the center may still be creamy
Stuff not mentioned in the book but I added it to the platter:
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) sesame seeds, we prefer hulled
2 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil such as grape seed, canola or a light olive oil
Pinch of salt, optional
Toast the sesame seeds for 3-5 minutes
Grind it in a mixer or food processor with oil and salt till smooth
Roasted Onions and Tomatoes:
One Onion and Tomato Roasted with peel on an open flame
2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
¾ teaspoon salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Put your eggplants on top of open flame and roast them till they are tender and the skin is black outside. Remove all the black flesh and discard it.
Take a bowl and put all the ingredients above and the flesh of the eggplant. Use a fork and smash it till it is like a pulp. Stir in the olive oil and garnish it with parsley.
I made this Pita bread exactly like how I make my naan and my pizza dough and I just shoved it in the oven. I forgot to take measurements, but this recipe seems rather similar.